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2010-11 Trustee Sue

posted 2 Aug 2011, 07:07 by Andy Langman   [ updated 1 Dec 2011, 08:23 by Manisha UK ]

Bollywood comes to Knowle ...

In the Christmas 2009 issue, Knowle Parish Magazine featured an article about a charity set up to help children in remote areas of Nepal. Little did I realise that this article would spark a creative flow that would lead to a local singer visiting Nepal - and the church hall packed with visitors for an Asian cultural evening.

Sue Hearn, who wrote the original article, is a member of Knowle Parish Church and became involved with a small charity - Manisha Child Welfare Foundation Nepal, MCWFN - after a visit there in 2009. Founded by an ex-Gurkha, Mahendra Shakya, the charity helps villagers in rural and deprived areas in the Himalayan mountains, where there are few basic amenities and little educational facilities. It has established over 16 community schools across Nepal and helped improve the water supplies, sanitation and medical care for villages. It also promotes eco-friendly tourism in Nepal, to help preserve the culture and natural resources of these areas, as well as providing employment opportunities for the communities.

The article was read by talented local, Olivia James. Olivia is studying music at Durham University and was interested in learning more about the culture of the people of Nepal. She won a young person's grant from Knowle and Dorridge Lions and travelled there in the summer to study the different forms of music, instruments and dance. Like Sue before her, Olivia was very impressed by the people and what MCWFN was striving to achieve, so, on her return, they both put their heads together and came up with the idea of a fund-raising cultural evening, with Olivia offering to perform with her band.

The Evening of Asian Music and Culture which took place on Saturday 10th December in St John's Hall and sponsored by the Lions, was a colourful and lively event. Sue had got on board Fair Trade suppliers, with stalls selling jewellery, scarves and crafts. The hall was decked out with fairy lights and Asian prints and there was a delicious smell of curry to warm you as you came in from the cold. Olivia gave a talk showing what she had learned from her visit to Nepal, about the cultural differences between the more modern and remote villages, and the varied music and instruments.

We were then treated to a lesson in Bollywood dancing from a friend of Sue's who teaches in London. He led us through the steps with a smile on his face, and had all of us (game enough to try) with matching grins, as well as grimaces of concentration! After this came a demonstration of Indian head massage, which we were able to try out on partners. It was strangely relaxing to do in a hall full of people! Curry followed, prepared in the kitchens, with chapattis supplied by Jyoti’s in Hall Green. And finally came Olivia, singing blues and jazz; she has a truly remarkable performing voice. (X Factor - eat your heart out - this was miles better!) It was a very memorable evening, made more special to know that the proceeds would be going directly to help families and children in a very different part of the world.

Sue says that the event was a great success, raising over £2,000. She sends huge thanks to all those who helped and supported.